If he looks like a lobbyist, and talks like a lobbyist, and acts like a lobbyist, but doesn't call himself a lobbyist on campaign finance disclosure reports...then presidential candidates can take his money without having to look like they're taking lobbyist cash, right? The Hill exposes the K Street equivalent of your mother writing "from Santa" on your Christmas presents.
With the Abramoff scandal still nipping at the heels of Congress, there's not a lot of love for lobbyists among the general public and the trend is for candidates to (at least appear to) distance themselves from lobbyists. But they represent a huge fundraising resource and it's going to be a heck of an expensive presidential race so several candidates are looking to strike a balance between taking all that money and proclaiming their independence from even the appearance of influence-peddling. The Center for Responsive Politics took a look at the difference in contributions from self-identifying lobbyists and employees of lobbyings firms:
According to an analysis of recent filings CRP released yesterday, donations to the six top 2008 contenders — Clinton, McCain, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) — totaled more than $530,000. Donations to all White House hopefuls by those who work at firms that lobby were about $700,000, the group said.
By contrast, according to PoliticalMoneyLine.com, the six presidential front-runners together raked in about $90,000 in 70 contributions from self-identified lobbyists.
So much for transparency. Look, lobbyists aren't by definition bad people, the point in investigating ties between lawmakers and lobbyists isn't to heap shame on the profession but when you have a whole group of people whose job it is to influence Congress and the White House giving huge sums of money to candidates for both, we have a right to know whethere there's correlation between money going from lobbyist to legislator and favors going from legislator to lobbyist.